Hen egg allergy is the second most frequent food allergy in young children. Although recommendations had been to limit exposure until 2-3 years of age to reduce allergies, recent work has demonstrated that early life oral exposures (~6 months of age) to peanuts contributes to immune tolerance for this food. This led to recommendations that children be exposed to eggs starting around 6 months as well. However, most of the existing research has utilized a single level of exposure, and those studies requiring daily consumption had low adherence. Work by Wen and colleagues has addressed the question of how early egg consumption must be initiated and the how frequently eggs must be consumed in order to reduce allergic reactions in children at 6 years of age. They published their findings in the January 2023 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
Data for this work were derived from children (n=1252) enrolled in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II. The frequency of egg consumption at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 12 months of age was reported. The mothers indicated whether the child had an egg allergy at 6 years of age during follow-up analyses. Regressions were used to compare egg allergy risk with the frequency of egg consumption during early life.
The risk of egg allergy at 6 years was reduced by egg consumption at 12 months. Compared to those not consuming eggs (2.05%), the risk of egg allergy was reduced to 0.41% with consumption less than 2 times/week, and further to 0.21% if eggs were consumed more than 2 times/week. A similar but non-significant improvement was observed for those consuming eggs at 10 months. Adjustments for various confounders led to a loss of significance for those consuming eggs less than 2 times/week, but it remained if eggs were consumed more than 2 times/week when children were 12 months of age. These results led the authors to conclude that consumption of eggs more than 2 times/week by 12 month old children contributes to a reduction in egg allergy among them at 6 years of age.
Wen X, Martone GM, Lehman HK, Rideout TC, Cameron CE, Dashley S, et al. Frequency of infant egg consumption and risk of maternal-reported egg allergy at 6 years. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 364-372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2022.11.023.
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